All posts tagged: Marriage

That Last Day I Ever Trusted My Father

I trusted my father to always do the right thing because he constantly barked at my sister and me about how hard he was working for us to have a good home, go to good schools, go to college, etc. My father was the first Black man ever hired at Western Electric in their managerial program. He did a lot of good, helping other Black folks get jobs, being the President of the NAACP chapter, and integrating the Kiwanis and Lions civic organizations. In hindsight, though, there were signs I shouldn’t have trusted him as much as I did. He was of the generation of men who did not cry and were not affectionate with their family. From the time I was four years old, I knew that he and my mother didn’t have a very loving relationship. When I was five, I remember being awakened by a huge fight they had one night. They were yelling at each other, and she grabbed a giant glass ashtray and tried to smash him in his head …

25 Years Later, Adventures with My Husband Are Just Getting Started

“What’s the Australian equivalent of Ibuprofin?” I asked my husband, handing him Band-Aids out of a medicine chest in a hut in the middle of the Tasmanian wilderness. “Is it paracetamol?” I said, flipping through various tiny white medicine packets stored in a Dixie cup. My husband winced and limped back to a bench to tend to his blistered feet. He’d been pretending they weren’t bothering him, but four days and almost 40 miles into our traverse of Tasmania’s Overland Track, his feet weren’t playing along. “Hey, your legs are still bleeding from the leeches,” he said, pointing to the rivulets that traced their way down my left calf. We’d learned that leeches secrete a chemical to prevent your blood from clotting while they fill up. You can’t feel them latch onto you and it doesn’t hurt to have them there, but once they fill up and drop off it, it takes ages for the bleeding to stop. “I know,” I said, dapping at the blood with a tissue. “Those little Tasmanian bastards.” It was the …

How to Lose at Wife-Carrying, and Win at Marriage

Author and journalist Jo Piazza had no idea what to do when she got engaged. She was terrified of taking on the role of someone’s wife. To figure it out, she traveled to 20 countries on five continents for her new memoir, How to Be Married: What I Learned From Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage. Told in honest prose with astute reporting, the book is a survival guide for the first year of marriage. The following is an adapted excerpt from the book. Most dating advice given to newlyweds is horrible. Maybe not horrible, but at least not terrifically helpful. It’s like the people writing the advice wrote sitcoms in the ‘80s where the laugh track covered the sadness and every problem was fixed in 28 minutes, including commercials. There’s a lot of “don’t forget to have a date night,” and “never go to bed angry,” and “say ‘I love you’ at least once a day.” In other words, there’s a lot of bullshit. In the …

I Got You — Caring for My Wife During Chemo

As my wife sat in the treatment room during chemotherapy, she would sometimes sing to me a song that became a sort of anthem for us. Headphones on, she’d hum and sing, “We ain’t gonna give up on this now, we refuse to turn around. This won’t be easy, no way, no how, but we won’t back down…” The song was ”We Got It” by Ne-Yo from The Wiz, one of those live TV musical events we’d watched together after her surgery back in 2015. In some ways, she was Dorothy and I was some unfortunate combination of the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. I would chime in, “And when the night is so cold, dark and lonely, All you got to do is look at me and hear what I say…” And then together we would sing, “We got it! We got it!” “I got you…” I got you. When Margit asked me to share my experience as a “caregiver” during her treatment, I felt a bit uncomfortable. I saw it as …

How Making More Than My Husband Almost Ruined Our Marriage

Growing up, my father controlled the finances in our family. And when I say he controlled the finances, I mean that he left my mother completely in the dark. Though she had a good job as a special education teacher, he had a higher-paying job as an attorney. That created a power dynamic that allowed him control over their finances until the day he died last year. It was only a few months before his death that my mother realized he had spent most of their savings, taken out a second mortgage on their house (without telling her, forging her name and spending the money without her consent) and had made no plans for her financial well-being after he was gone. She’d allowed the discrepancy in their earning power to give him control over her life, and it cost her dearly. Watching the two of them provided my first lessons in financial planning and marital survival, but not before I had the chance to make mistakes of my own. When my husband and I got …

10 Ways to Keep From Retiring in a Cardboard Box

I’ve never had access to a 401(k) plan — I’ve been working full-time freelance since 2006. I’ve always wanted to retire, no matter how anathema that sounds in workaholic America. Maybe it’s because I’ve also lived in countries where people actually look forward to — and many can afford — a labor-free later life: England, France, Mexico and my native Canada. Not coincidentally, fear of medical bankruptcy  — the greatest single destroyer of Americans’ finances — isn’t an issue there either because they offer single-payer government healthcare from cradle to grave, working or not. I’ve been saving hard for years. I’m married, so I do have the advantage of an additional income and shared costs. If I were single, I’d probably sell my home and rent or use a reverse mortgage. As a journalist who’s been covering personal finance for years for outlets like The New York Times, Reuters, Investopedia and others, I’ve learned a lot about the common financial mistakes people make. I’ve also handled my own money for decades, moving out of my …

Faith in Boys, Bikes and Wallpaper

I had all kinds of faith when I was a kid. Faith in Christmas presents, in the sweetness and chaos of my brother, in pathological lip-gloss reapplication, in swimming pools, in ketchup all over everything, in my bike. I had faith that my mother would remain fierce and beautiful and my father funny. I had faith that I could be those things if I paid attention. I would cherry-pick and incorporate. Season myself to taste. I would control myself. Everyone thinks they can do this. I didn’t know that then. But I had faith that concentrating really hard was the answer. Sometimes I notice myself being the things that they are, all kinds of things, and their voices are suddenly inside me, finding their way out. I’m surprised every time. Like I’ve belched in public. I have faith it doesn’t show. Did you read that on my face? I’m very good at not showing. I ask all the questions. I have faith that asking all the questions will fill me up. My story and others …

Cheers to the Ones Who Aren’t Drinking This New Year’s Eve

Krystal and Cristal — it was the tradition my husband and I shared for 15 years. For those unfamiliar, Krystal is a hamburger chain headquartered in Dunwoody, Georgia. And Cristal, well, you know that’s champagne. It’s a purposeful mix of “high-low,” born on our first New Year’s together when, without a reservation, my husband and I grabbed a sackful of Krystal burgers and champagne, December 31, 2001. The tradition evolved in subsequent years. We ate the burgers off Lenox china gifted to us for our wedding, then on a silver tray once at a dinner party, and then the tiny burgers were cut into quarters for our small son. This year, La Croix will be substituted for Cristal. Because this year, I quit drinking for good. It used to be that I would feel sorry for the person who wasn’t drinking. How could I have a New Year’s Eve? How could I have any kind of Friday — or Tuesday for that matter? This year’s toast is not about the things that I have lost. …

How a Single Can of Pumpkin Followed Me for Years

It started innocently enough: one simple can of pumpkin. I had graduated from college a few months earlier, put all my worldly possessions in the back of a truck and moved to Chicago to start Grown-Up Life. This Grown-Up Life involved moving in with my boyfriend and two housemates. Each weekday I’d get dressed in one of two mix-and-match Gap suits each morning to go to my temp job du jour. I was playing the part, and I was not giving a stellar performance; there was a constant possibility that my understudy might be called upon in the hopes that she’d pull this off better. Our housemates were old hands at this maturity thing — they were already planning their wedding and saving for a house. They shopped at Budget Grocery, and since they seemed to have adulthood down cold, I figured it must be the responsible place to shop. I have no idea what else I bought, but it was autumn so pumpkin was everywhere. I spotted the can and thought, “Adults do things like baking! If …

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In Praise of the Midlife Crisis — on a Motorcycle

We should avoid excess risk as we age. So says conventional wisdom. After all, it takes longer to heal a bone broken learning to ski in our 50s than in our 20s. There won’t be time to regain a financial loss suffered past our early 40s if we become too aggressive with our investments. Going back to school later in life to embark on a new career seems a waste of time and energy. And don’t get me started on those folks who leave long-term marriages for the greener pastures of a new relationship. I believed all these things. Until, at age 48, I fell in love with a matte black, brawny beast of a machine. I took a motorcycle safety class as research for a book I was writing and surprised myself with the depth of feeling that burbled up. My father was dying at the time and I felt entombed in a marriage that, after 25 years, had lost all its verve. I had raised three on-the-cusp-of-adulthood children, served as a professor of …

I Left My New York Apartment For Life on a Boat

Three weeks ago, I sailed away from New York City. I cast off the lines from our 37-foot sloop and left New York harbor for the East River, along with my husband and dog. In that moment, and without much ceremony, we were no longer New Yorkers. The moment we left the dock, we became full-time sailors with no homeport to call us back. This wasn’t a longtime dream. We’re not lifelong boaters. Nor did we come from wealth or retire early on some startup exit. My husband, Jon, and I are simply wanderers. We spent years wanting something else. This is our else. Before moving to New York two years ago, Jon and I met through our love of travel. After a couple of years of dating, we each began working without an office, for a total of about five years, sometimes running a business together, sometimes working separately. This wasn’t gig economy work but rather leadership positions for traditional companies that were trying a new format of working. And it worked. I completely …

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The New Man in My Life — My Retired Spouse

“What are you up to today?” This is the question that my husband and I often ask each other over our morning coffee. For most of our 28-year marriage, I knew what my physician husband would be up to — he’d been doing the same things since the day we met. He would be running miles through hospital corridors, performing colonoscopies and liver biopsies. He’d be delivering good news as well as life-changing-in-an-instant bad news. He’d be awakened from a sound sleep and summoned to the emergency room to deal with a “bleeder.” He was dealing in life and death, every day and night. But for the past year, since his retirement, his agenda has taken an almost unrecognizable turn. Now, when I ask that morning question, his answer will startle me. “I’m going to meditate. Do my stretching routine. Maybe go for a bike ride up in the park. Take a nap. Go to the aquarium shop. Read a little.” Who is this guy? I barely recognize him. But I like him. Before he …

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Asked and Answered: How the Universe Provided My Dream Guy

January’s East Coast blizzard, now manifested in little more than a few snow piles that continue to lull me into thinking there are more parking spots up ahead at the local Target, brought back memories of the Blizzard of 1996. As the weather ‘bots on TV attempted to roil up panicked shopping at The Home Depot, recollections of that monumental snow dump informed many of my decisions in preparing for the blizzard of 2016. While checking on generator fuel and access to the snow shovel (try digging out your shovel when it’s across the yard and all you have on hand is a large spatula), I marveled at how my circumstances have changed in the interim between storms. In 1996, I was recently divorced, confused and in terrible psychic pain. What I can now blithely refer to as my “starter marriage” had gone horribly wrong after I had ignored one of the basic tenants of relationship advice, which is to actually listen to what your partner is telling you. My ex-husband had made no bones about …

The Things No One Tells You About Divorce

We had just had sex. One minute, we were kissing and pressed against each other and I was in the safest place in the world. The next minute, I was lying alongside him crying and asking, “What do people do in a situation like this?” And he was saying: “Get divorced.” When I met Erik, I had never been in love with anyone. I was 31, and I saw him across the room at a party. My first thought was that he looked endearing, gentle, like he would never hurt me. We talked about his art and my job as a writer, and when we had our first date on a bench in Union Square we kissed for hours and held hands. I felt like a kid, giddy with excitement that someone wanted me on their team. By the time he told me a few dates later that he didn’t want children, I was already hooked. My thinking went something like this: Some people are never lucky enough to fall in love. I found an …

How I Caught My Cheating Fiance and Changed My Life Forever

Please don’t feel heartbroken for me when I tell you my breakup story. I assure you, I am happy. I assure you, I know with certainty that it was best that we broke up. It happened 20 years ago. My heart has long since healed. One other thing I feel like I should preface with: The bad boyfriend is an elected politician in a major U.S. city. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call him Mr. X. There was a lot at stake for me 20 years ago when we dated, when I knew that he would eventually run for office and I felt confident that he would win. I knew how persuasive he could be. And I was already feeling like the lifestyle of a politician’s wife would be too much. But his charm was overwhelming and made me doubt myself and my own instincts over and over again. But the fact remained, I was already dreading being the wife. I didn’t want to have to smile through every event while the press scoured …

One Engagement Ring, Three Divorces

Two months salary. A girl’s best friend. A gift that lasts a lifetime. Our family diamond has been called many things, but it will no longer be called an engagement ring. I’m heading to the jeweler’s to pick up the shard of stone that’s been passed down in my family for three generations, sowing havoc and heartache wherever it landed. Humans have always attributed enormous power to rings. Think of popes, kings, seniors and Lords of — no one ever kissed an earring or bowed to a bracelet. And so, I’m having this ring deconsecrated. It is ready for a new incarnation as a sparkly bauble, no longer a promise of eternal love. After three failed tries, our diamond will be reincarnated as a harmless charm. The diamond was originally purchased by my father, hastily, in 1964. Not long after he thrust it at my mother, I was born in a manner that had the aunts and uncles counting on their fingers and nodding knowingly.  But despite its rocky start, the marriage endured for 14 …

The K. Warner Guide to Naming Your Child

When Kelsey McCook Warner was born in June 1989, my husband and I were grateful, ecstatic and a bit relieved. But nearly eight years later, during my second pregnancy, I realized that the name “Kelsey” — one that we both loved — had created a problem I could have never imagined. Not too long after we learned the sex of our second child (a boy!), I blithely pulled out a yellowed list of names that we had considered when naming our first child in 1989. I added a few new names to the list, then rambled them off to my husband. He didn’t say much. At first, I didn’t pay attention to his non-responsiveness, but after it went on for a good 20 minutes, I realized that I was talking to myself. “Hellloooooooo?” I said. “What do you think? We’ve got a good ten names here, and we’ve got a few months to decide.” Silence. I chose to ignore the body language. “Ken?!” Looking uncomfortable yet determined, and with a certain set to his jaw that …

What The Truck: New York City Life in an F250

Right after I got married, my new husband decided that he wanted to indulge in the utmost of New York City extravagances: a car. Owning a car in Manhattan is a fruitless proposition that no one can truly understand unless you live there. Contending with street sweeping schedules and parking regulations even the police don’t fully understand is a menace few have the constitution for. Greg, however, decided it would make him feel less marooned on the isle of Manhattan if we could flee over the bridges in a car of our own. The problem was that he didn’t buy a car. He bought a very large and very old truck. I figured we weren’t getting a Mercedes by the Craig’s List posting which contained the very compelling sales pitch: F250. Good. Cash. Brooklyn. What the seller failed to list was the age of the truck. [pullquote]When he first pulled that beast into the parking garage attached to our apartment building, the doorman took one glance at that truck and said, “Oh, hell no.”[/pullquote] It wasn’t …

Become a Bloom? Yes I Said Yes I Will Yes

The decision to change your last name when getting married is fraught for many women — especially feminists. Strangely for me, a woman who has been comfortable with the feminist label since I was a young girl, changing my name was a no-brainer. My reasons for choosing the name-change route are personal and have as much to do with my husband’s last name, Bloom, as they do with the institution of marriage. First, some history. I was born in America to immigrant parents who never expected to stay here. The plan was four years of university for my father, then a few years of work. Nothing more than that. But life happened and we stayed. Naturally, since they’re Israeli they gave me a Hebrew first name. I mean, why wouldn’t they? It’s their first language and was mine as well. As luck would have it my last name was a mouthful. But one that is both culturally and historically significant. The name is Ashkenazi. Take it from me, Naama Ashkenazi is not an easy name …

What Do You Do When the Woman You Love Loves Another Man?

Hello, I’m Philip. Dixie is the woman I love, the woman I’ve lived with for almost three years, the woman I hope to spend the rest of my life with. She still loves her ex. And I’m OK with that. When I met Dixie I didn’t know she had an ex, let alone that she still loved him. When I did see them together though, it was obvious. There’s an easy affection between them that you seldom see except between long-time lovers, or family. His name, by the way, is Tom. The time came when I had to tell Dixie that I loved her. “Had to,” as in “couldn’t not do it.” That’s another story entirely, but the short version is that in the middle of a conversation about something completely non-related, I said to her, “I love you, you’re just going to have to deal with that.” Having dropped that emotional grenade, I jumped tracks back to the original conversation like nothing happened. Anyway… It took guts to say “I love you,” but not …

I’m Married, But Don’t Call Me Mrs.

I was absolutely terrified and not sure at all that I wanted to step out of the car and into the church. I was all of 24 years old and about to marry a man whom I loved deeply and who I wanted to share my life with. Have children with. But wife? Wife. WIFE. I felt not unprepared or ambivalent but rather, resistant and fairly resentful of both the word and the reality of “wife.” Or at least the reality I envisioned. I went into marriage with a fair amount of pre- (or rather, ill-) conceived notions of what a marriage “should be,” what it meant to be a wife and how my life and world would change. Part religion, part society, part too many hours spent reading and watching overly romanticized, conventionally and poorly written beach novels and Lifetime For Women television specials. And part me and my own family baggage and mythology. My mom married my dad at 18 after being sweethearts (what a term!) since they were about 12. My mom …

A License to Self-Unite: Why We Decided to Marry Ourselves

First, I was a single person. Then, I was a mother. Next, I became a homeowner. Finally, I became a wife. As you can see, I didn’t become “wife” in the order that most people would expect. It’s a long story. The short version is that my husband and I met, dated, broke up, got pregnant, had a baby, lived apart, had other relationships, rekindled our romance, went to therapy, lived together, co-parented a child and then finally, and only when we had decided that we needed to move to another city together for work, got married. It was a functional decision, one based in the idea that we should be more committed if we were going to tough it out through an enormous change, like moving to another state. Plus, we’d already survived more ups and downs than most newlyweds. And we didn’t get married in the traditional sense. If you happen to be from Philadelphia, then you may have heard of the “self-uniting license.” It exists in Philly because of that city’s relatively …

Margit’s Note: The Wife Issue

“This is my wife…” At a cocktail party, the phrase is inserted before my name. It says, “I go with this person.” Does it immediately imply I make casseroles and iron shirts? No, but roles have been identified and a claim has been staked. This is my territory, these are my Hawaiian Islands, there is a fence, watch out for the moat. The word “Wife” is beyond loaded, as we’re exploring this week — and as we’ve debated for decades. Personally, I struggle less with the word than with the activities it implies. And I don’t mean doing dishes or sewing buttons. After I got married, there was suddenly a ridiculous new assumption (not from my husband, mind you) that I would be the one to remember details and follow-up on things — birthdays, thank you notes, vacation details. People would suddenly connect with me about activities that had to do with both of us, or even just my husband. I was suddenly the Julie McCoy of our partnership. Little did they know, I will almost always accidentally direct you …

Why I’m in Love with a Luddite

The night I met my husband in the bar on 15th street, back in 2001, I was ready and eager to punch his phone number into whatever Palm Pilot-like object was trendy and in my bag. He wouldn’t give it to me. Instead, he wrote my first name on a napkin, slipped it in his pocket, and asked me to meet him, same time, same place, four days later. I did. He did. No texts, alerts or mobile carriers required. At the end of our first date I asked for his email address. Again, he declined. He said he didn’t want to get to know me on the computer, through grammatically sub-par notes sent during office breaks or business meetings. He wanted to get to know me, in real-time and in real life. This all seemed highly suspect. Who was this guy? Was he on the lam? Married? Why so cagey? I couldn’t get it into my head that his avoidance of technology might have motives based in anything but malice. But he was charming, …

The Best Part Of Divorce? My Ex-Wives Club

When I was newly separated from my husband of seven years, I met a woman who was in the process of getting divorced. We were at our local watering hole — I’d met her through a few mutual friends, so we struck up a conversation. At first glance, she couldn’t have been more different than me. The kind of woman that was intimidating. The kind of woman that all men looked at and bought drinks for. Tall and blonde with a sexy German accent, she was the opposite of my short, mousy brown American self. But we started talking about what we had in common: our soon to be ex-husbands, what had happened to our marriages, and how the divorce processes were going. I asked her how her little kids, who were the same ages as mine, were handling living in two separate places. She said it was going okay except they always came back to her house bedraggled. Tired. Teeth unbrushed. Hair slightly matted. I guess I shouldn’t have been so shocked but wow, …

Late-Blooming Bride: Globetrotter Finds Love Right Under Her Nose

He: A white high school quiz show champ from Kentucky, separated from his wife, wearing a shiny new cancer survivor medallion on his lapel. Me: A serial man-eater with a preference for dark-skinned men from various corners of the globe, and trips out of Dodge always in the works. Embroiled in an on-again, off-again, decade-long love affair with the son of an erstwhile political revolutionary from South Africa, where I was planning to relocate and become a first lady of sorts. Mr. Kentucky and I sat a few hundred feet away from each other in the newsroom at washingtonpost.com, where he ran business and technology news and I wrote food and travel stories. He may as well have worked on the other side of the world.  If it weren’t for his shiny bald head, the result of chemotherapy, I may not have noticed him from my cubicle. And yet, as John Lennon sang, and many other famous people have publicly observed: Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. Along with …